millennials

U.S. Millennials Drive Snackification of Mealtimes

A survey of U.S. Millennial snackers showed these busy consumers eat snacks at work, home and in the car, as long as those offers are tasty, healthy and convenient.

Search “#snackification" in Twitter, and it’s clear this distinctly 21st-century word has fallen into common usage. Snacks are growing in importance in our increasingly hectic lives, where time is precious, and the opportunity to sit down to eat a meal is becoming ever rare.

The popularity of snackification as a discussion point on Twitter, a social media playground for Millennials, also reminds us how this generation is shaping the world we live in. We spend a lot of time thinking about the types of snacks consumers want. But, we place an emphasis on these influential consumers who are changing society. A good understanding of their preferences and habits is highly valuable for snack brands. In January 2017, Welch’s Global Ingredients Group commissioned research to understand how the snacking category is viewed by American Millennials.

The results found most American Millennial snackers eat a snack in place of a standard meal at least occasionally. When asked how often they eat a snack instead of having breakfast, lunch or dinner, 92 percent said they do so a minimum of once a week. Furthermore, half of the respondents said they replace a meal with a snack at least four times a week, while more than a quarter (26 percent) said they do so at least seven times a week.

The online survey of 300 male and female American Millennials who snack regularly was conducted by independent market research company Surveygoo. The findings shed light on the true scale of the snackification of mealtimes among Millennial snackers, an often-reported but rarely measured phenomenon.

This trend reflects American Millennial snackers’ busy lives. They are snacking both at home and on the go, with 48 percent of Millennial snackers consuming snacks at work and 34 percent in the car. When asked why they snack, 39 percent of Millennial snackers said they do so when they are too busy to eat a proper sit-down meal, while 17 percent admitted to doing so when they “can’t be bothered to cook a meal."

When respondents were asked which factors are important in guiding their choice of snack, the three most important were taste (80 percent), nutrition and health (52 percent) and convenience (49 percent). They also said they are looking for whole food ingredients, such as whole grains (43 percent), real fruit (42 percent) and nuts (39 percent). However, 43 percent of American Millennial snackers said they agree with the statement: “It can sometimes be difficult for me to find snacks that are healthy and that also taste good." This suggests room in the market for new snacks that combine taste, authenticity and nutrition.

Replacement of mealtime with snacktime among American Millennial snackers is widespread. These consumers need their snacks to be convenient for their busy lives and contribute to their daily nutrition needs. Our survey findings tell us there is an opportunity for snack products that can check all the boxes—taste, convenience and natural nutrition.

Millennial Snackers Value Real Fruit

The survey also explored American Millennial snackers’ attitudes surrounding the inclusion of fruit ingredients in snacks. In total, 66 percent said they would be more likely to buy a snack containing fruit if it was made with real fruit. Only 3 percent of the Millennials surveyed said they never buy snacks containing fruit.

Besides valuing whole food ingredients like real fruit, Millennials who snack also prefer to know the origin of the fruit in their snacks. In total, 68 percent of respondents to the survey said it was important for them to know where the ingredients in their snacks, including the fruit, had come from. This suggests a snacking brand that innovates with real fruit and clearly demonstrates authenticity and provenance at the point-of-sale is likely to be a winner.

Overall, the findings from the survey highlight the prevalence of snacktime in place of mealtime. This is driving consumer interest in snacks that not only deliver superior taste, but offer convenient, authentic nutrition with the goodness of whole foods. With the right ingredients, like real fruit inclusions, manufacturers have an opportunity to meet the exact needs of the American Millennial snacker and bring winning products to the marketplace.

Wayne Lutomski, is vice president of International and Welch’s Global Ingredients Group. Welch’s Global Ingredients makes FruitWorx real fruit pieces for snack applications.

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